Parise's fondness for Devils remains

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 3, 2013 - 6:08 PM

Zach Parise played seven seasons for New Jersey. Now he plays against his old team for the first time since leaving for the Wild.

The state of New Jersey tends to be maligned and misunderstood by Midwesterners, who frequently associate it with blighted cities, fictional mob bosses and in-your-face attitude. Not Zach Parise, who still feels a deep affection for the place where he grew into an NHL star.

The Minnesota native was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 2003 and spent seven happy seasons in East Rutherford and Newark. Sunday, Parise will play against his former team for the first time since he signed with the Wild as a free agent in 2012. While he is looking forward to seeing many old friends, his lingering fondness for the Devils organization — and, yes, New Jersey — mean he also is eager to get past that initial experience of playing against it.

Parise signed a 13-year, $98 million deal to come home and play for the Wild. Contrary to assumptions, he was not counting the days until he could return. As the Devils captain, a fan favorite and a player once called “the heartbeat of the team,” Parise did not find it easy to leave the place.

“I loved it out there,” said Parise, who has six goals and four assists this season. “It’s a great place to play.

“[Sunday’s game] will be pretty nerve-racking. It will be fun to see the players and trainers and coaches and say ‘hi’ after the game. I’m excited to play it, but at the same time, I’m excited for it also to be past. The next 24 hours, I’ll be thinking about it quite a bit.”

Parise played 502 games for the Devils, compiling 194 goals and 216 assists and leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals in his final season. He remains friends with several Devils players, including former linemate Travis Zajac and longtime goaltender Martin Brodeur.

As a young player, Parise said, he expected he might spend his entire career in New Jersey. He embraced the organization’s team-first, highly disciplined culture and emulated the veterans who helped him polish his hockey and leadership skills. He also came to appreciate the pizza, the mom-and-pop sandwich shops, and the proximity to New York City.

Wild coach Mike Yeo said he will talk to Parise briefly about the emotions surrounding the game, but he will not dwell on it. “I don’t think you want to turn it into too big of a thing,” Yeo said. “It’s not like he’s a young kid. He’s played the game enough to know what he has to do.”

The Wild was scheduled to play the Devils at Newark’s Prudential Center last November, but the game was canceled by the NHL lockout. Parise will face the Devils in New Jersey for the first time on March 20, when he knows emotions could run even higher.

After Sunday’s handshakes and greetings, Parise said, his feelings will be set aside for 60 minutes. “Of course you want to win the game,” he said. “For me, selfishly, I really want to win the game against them. You always want to beat your former team.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
New England 14 FINAL
Kansas City 41
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close